Road rage puts bus driver in hospital

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 08/07/2014

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A bus driver was in Timaru Hospital yesterday after a road rage incident left him with a fractured cheekbone and broken nose.

A Timaru man, 43, who had been driving a car, was charged with assault after allegedly punching the driver once on Evans St.

Constable Sam Hawker confirmed a charge had been laid but could not say when the man would appear in court. The punch was described by a relation as "one massive blow", causing the facial injuries.

Ritchies area manager for South Canterbury Philip Boel said it the incident was unjustifiable.

"For this to happen to a man who is just going about doing his job is quite concerning," Boel said. "Fortunately no passengers were on board at the time. I still don't know all the details ..."

It was not clear whether the incident took place on the bus.

Boel understood the victim was extremely shaken up. He said the bus-driving community in South Canterbury was "reasonably tight-knit". He expected messages of support would be pouring in over the next few days from both current and previous drivers.

"We all know each other. We hear if something happens," Boel said.

Drivers did not know who the man who allegedly assaulted the driver was, so no ban had been put in place at this stage, he said.

"He could get on any bus tomorrow and we wouldn't have a clue."

Boel said the driver would be off work for a while, which might put the pinch on drivers later on.

"He just wants to come back to work, but he has to recover first," he said.

It was a stroke of luck the incident happened at the start of the school holidays, when there were a few extra bus drivers able to cover his shifts, he said.

However, down the line it could cause an issue.

"Bus drivers don't just grow on trees I'm afraid."

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